Virginia Gilbert and Joan Gentles take part in a powwow last June at the Chief Will-Yum Campsite.

Virginia Gilbert and Joan Gentles take part in a powwow last June at the Chief Will-Yum Campsite.

Thousands of visitors expected for B.C. elders gathering in Williams Lake

This summer people from the province’s 203 First Nations communities will meet in Williams Lake for the 40th Annual BC Elder’s Gathering.

This summer people from the province’s 203 First Nations communities will converge in Williams Lake for the 40th Annual BC Elder’s Gathering taking place July 11 to 14, 2016, hosted by the Tlet’inqox (Anaham) First Nation.

It’s an opportunity for First Nations and non-First Nations to come together and is anticipated 3,000 to 5,000 Elders will attend, says Cecil Grinder, Tl’etinqox-t’in councillor, who is co-ordinating the event with Elder Stan Stump, with support of the  Secwepemc, Carrier, Nuxalk and St’át’imc communities.

To kick off the event, an early-bird Wild West Celebration day is planned for Monday, July 11 at the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds, beginning with a mountain race and rodeo.

Powwow, sweat lodges,  healing circles and lahal tournaments are in the early stages of planning.

“The hunters, fisherman and cooks are already talking about making preparations for the traditional feasts,” Grinder says.

He says tours are also being planned that will provide the opportunity for elders and guests to witness the rich culture, history and beauty of the region.

Given the excitement elders from all across British Columbia have demonstrated for the gathering, he says the organizing committee is also looking at a shuttle service to the gathering for hotels in Quesnel, Williams  Lake, Lac la Hache and 100 Mile House.

A list of camp sites for tents and motor homes as well as billet and bed and breakfast locations is also being developed.

Meetings have also taken place with local and regional government officials and other organizations about the provision of food services and other amenities such as portable washroom facilities.

He says it is the committee’s hope that all 203 B.C. First Nations communities will have participants at the gathering including their chiefs or designated representatives.

“We look forward to all our sponsor partners and invited guests attending next year’s gathering to share a meal and get to know the traditions and rich culture of our First People,” Grinder says.

For inquiries and registration, contact: Cecil Grinder, Councillor at Tl’etinqox-t’in Health Services, PO Box 168, Alexis Creek, B.C. V0L 1A0

People can also contact Grinder at 250-394-4240 Ext. 219 or fax 250-394-4234 or e-mail cgrinder@tletinqoxtin.ca.